The move does not come as a total surprise. In order for the company to hit its intended pricing date of Aug. 6 and begin trading the next day, it would have had to begin its global road show to investors sometime next week. And that could have happened only if certain other matters—including the conclusion of a review by the Securities and Exchange Commission, settling the company's valuation and finalizing its presentation plans—were completed by next week.
Pricing after Aug. 6 would have risked annoying investors eager to go on summer vacations. Moving the pricing date to sometime in September, which many people involved in the I.P.O. process thought a more realistic target in any case, increasingly became the only logical course of action.
Read MoreRed flags: Alibaba's Ma and his equity firm
A representative for Alibaba declined to comment.
—By Michael J. de la Merced, The New York Times